After Justice League's reshoots significantly changed the story and tone, resulting in a Frankenstein monster edit of the movie, drawing middling reviews and resulting in the DCEU's worst box office performance, many fans of Snyder's other DCEU movies began to campaign for Warner Bros. to release his original cut of the movie, a significant portion of which was completed before Snyder left the project.
Now that Aquaman is finally in theaters, garnering positive reviews and seeing massive success at the overseas box office, will the movie have any impact on the possibility of seeing the Snyder Cut at some point in the future?
Aquaman Fits in Snyder Cut Canon
When it comes to the Snyder Cut, one of the biggest questions is one of canon. There are some pretty major differences between Justice League's theatrical cut and the Snyder Cut, so releasing the Snyder Cut could create a bit of a debate as to which version should be honored by future movies. For example, if the Snyder Cut is released, including a major Darkseid introduction, and then Darkseid is brought into another movie like Justice League 2, do they pick up where the Snyder Cut left off, or re-introduce him as if fans don't already know that lore?
Fortunately, that's not a decision that the DCEU needs to make just yet because Aquaman doesn't do anything that violates the continuity of either version. In fact, since the script for Aquaman was written long before Justice League's story changes happened, the limited connective tissue was based on the events of the Snyder Cut. While it hardly contradicts the theatrical cut, the ending of the Snyder Cut actually has a more direct setup for Aquaman, as revealed by Jason Momoa.
Ultimately, Aquaman's impact on DCEU canon likely won't have a major impact on the overall likelihood of the Snyder Cut happening, but the fact that it doesn't draw an outright contradiction can keep hope alive for many fans.
Aquaman's Tone Change
One of the biggest words thrown around about the DCEU since its inception is "tone." With Zack Snyder's more serious approach to superheroes drawing such a divisive response, intense debate constantly raged over whether the DCEU struck the right tone, and whether or not it should change in future movies.
That change didn't come with Wonder Woman, which tonally fit pretty in-line with what Zack Snyder did with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros tried to use reshoots and post-production to alter the tone of Suicide Squad and Justice League in a way that was the ultimate demise of both movies. Aquaman, however, is a clear tonal departure from what came before, but since it was written and designed that way from conception, the final product is a lot more successful.
Despite the change from Snyder's aesthetic, the version of Arthur Curry that arrived in theaters was closer to the version we would have gotten had Zack Snyder's cut of Justice League been the one seen in theaters than to Joss Whedon's Aquaman after rewrites and reshoots. The DCEU was always intended to be a franchise where, outside of Zack Snyder's 5 core movies, the tone and aesthetic would be free to match the sensibilities of the director, as evidenced by the DCEU's original, stylistically diverse lineup of directors in Zack Snyder, David Ayer, Patty Jenkins, Rick Famuyiwa, and James Wan. A lot of things may have changed behind the scenes, but the DCEU is still reportedly still trying to achieve a diversity of styles and tones with its future films.
It Improves DCEU Brand Perception
It can't be overstated how important it is for the possibility of a Snyder Cut for the rest of the DCEU to be well received. Aquaman is a continuation of what Zack Snyder started, he even cast several of the main characters, so with Aquaman getting good reviews, a good cinemascore, and bringing in a sizeable box office haul, part of that success should go to Zack Snyder, something Jason Momoa hasn't let people forget. He's even directly advocated for the Snyder Cut's release.
If Aquaman were critically rejected and flopped at the box office, the same would be also true, and some of the blame would doubtless be directed at Snyder. If there's no demand or appreciation for movies in this universe outside of vocal supporters on social media (read: people actually buying tickets to see a movie, not just tweeting about it), then there's no way Warner Bros. will see any potential value in paying more money to complete the Snyder Cut for release. The campaign to get the cut released is certainly important for raising awareness and keeping it a part of the conversation, but what's going to get Warner Bros. to actually pay attention is the kind of critical and financial success seen by Aquaman.
Audiences Are More Invested in DCEU Characters
One of the biggest problems in getting widespread support for the Snyder Cut is the fact that many people don't have a strong attachment to these versions characters yet. While it's true that solo movies weren't necessary to the story or to establish the characters in Justice League, it's also true that the general audience didn't have enough of an existing attachment to the DCEU characters it a box office success.
With the public embracing Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Amber Heard as Mera, the prospect of a new cut of Justice League that includes more scenes with those two characters is actually something people start to become interested in. Especially with reports that Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill's futures in the DCEU are tenuous at best, a stronger attachment to the characters is imperative for Warner Bros. to have confidence in the prospects of people investing in something like the Snyder Cut.
Aquaman's Case For Director Freedom
Coming out of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, the expectation was always that the DCEU would be a director-driven endeavor, but when the response to Zack Snyder's first two movies was far more divisive than anticipated, and meanwhile Marvel was pumping out 3 movies a year with regular crossovers, the pressure was on to produce something with similar success for Warner Bros.
The studio strongly interfered with both Suicide Squad and Justice League, trying to turn them into something with broader appeal; however, after the changes, the appeal wasn't there after all, and the devoted fans of their initial approach were beginning to get turned off when the movies they signed up for weren't always what ended up in theaters.
Not only was Aquaman's production free of any concerning reshoot news, but the final product is clearly not a product of studio polish, with James Wan's over-the-top approach resulting in a high octane adventure film that could only be the product of a single mind.
After the failure of Justice League, Aquaman's success tells Warner Bros. that they're better off with a more hands-off approach. This benefit is mostly a good thing for future directors, but it is the first step to the studio opening their mind to the idea that a more pure version of Justice League could also be better than the theatrical cut.
All-in-all, Aquaman's success on its own isn't about to get DC executives to pick up the phone and order the Snyder Cut, but it certainly keeps its hopes alive. An Aquaman that contradicted Justice League's continuity, failed critically and/or financially, or didn't get fans excited for more of its characters would have all but ensured the Cut never getting released. Meanwhile, amazing word of mouth and franchise-best numbers overseas just might get DC executives wondering how they can make more money from Jason Momoa's Aquaman, while an alternate cut of his first extended movie appearance, including a significant amount of character development, just needs a little financial investment to be completed.